Building on thinkpublic user insights together with published research from the Campaign on Loneliness, the Centre for Intergenerational Practice and others, shows that there is a growing ‘epidemic’ of loneliness across the UK, with associated problems around loss of identity and poor mental health. This is driven by changes to social structures, work environments and family and is exacerbated by generations becoming more disconnected from each other, with many people lacking both connection within the family but also those natural connections across the generations that promote mutual support and exchange.
We have developed Relative Friends as a new social venture that helps people build family-like relationships with people in their local area. The service combines hosted social events, meetups and shared activities, with a safe online social networking environment, which together enable a range of isolated and lonely people to build caring and supportive friendships with people who live or work nearby. Our objective is to create meaningful intergenerational relationships with the support and exchange that family close by might provide, promoting engagement, empowerment and happiness.
We have been running it at a small scale so far in London and Manchester and are looking for further funding to scale the service across the UK. So do get in contact if you would like to know more or you would like to help.
Relative Friends won the Service Design category in the Design Week 2012 Awards, which recognises the best British design talent of the year. The judges said: Well-thought-through, clear and smart. Service design with real intent. Clever thinking that has an impact on people’s lives and community as a whole.